The Nicaraguan police detained 24 people who invaded an indigenous territory and attacked its inhabitants in the northeast of the country, in an unprecedented event since the violent land occupations began in the area more than seven years ago.
In a statement, the National Police reported that 22 men and two women were arrested on Thursday in the Musawas community, Bonanza municipality, North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCN), after “land was taken” in the region. Alal Indian.
According to the police version, the authorities received complaints from the inhabitants of the area about the presence of the group, which was armed with “sharp and blunt objects” such as machetes, sticks and stones.
The report indicated that the detainees, who are known as “colonos” (mestizos), were taken to the Modelo de Tipitapa prison, north of Managua, and that they will be prosecuted for “organized crime, usurpation of private domain and environmental crimes.” ”.
Leaders of civil organizations and defenders of indigenous peoples reacted skeptically to the news. They indicated that, according to witness accounts, it was the local residents who captured the “settlers” and handed them over to the police.
“They didn’t stop the invaders, it was the community members themselves who caught them,” lawyer María Luisa Acosta, director of the non-governmental group Center for Legal Assistance to Indigenous Peoples (CALPI), told The Associated Press.
Acosta explained that the residents of Musawas detected the presence of the “settlers” in the area since January 19 and that on the 23rd “they organized in their self-defense” and “managed to stop them.”
“This is the first time that the regime has announced the arrest of people linked to the invasions of indigenous territories,” environmentalist Amaru Ruiz, director of the environmentalist Fundación del Río, confirmed to the AP. He added that “we must wait with great caution” for the prosecution process, since on previous occasions “these types of people have been detained and then released.”
Ruiz questioned the fact that the government of Daniel Ortega “does not recognize the invasion problem that affects not only that indigenous territory but many more” in Nicaragua.
According to the indigenous people, the “settlers” are farmers from the northern and western parts of the country, who occupy their lands to grow crops and clear the forests, in complicity with government-authorized agricultural and logging companies.
According to leaders of indigenous groups, the incursions of mestizo farmers into communal lands titled by the State began in 2005. A decade later, in 2015, the “settlers” began to invade the territories violently, attacking with firearms the inhabitants of the place.
The most frequent attacks occur against Miskito and Mayangna indigenous communities, who live in the Bosawas biosphere reserve, in the RACCN, where regional governments have allowed violent invasions despite constant complaints from community members.
In August 2021, at least 15 people were killed after armed “settlers” attacked the mining community of Kiwakumbaih, a remote village in the North Caribbean. The police not only failed to arrest the attackers, but also arrested four Mayangna indigenous people who were sentenced to life imprisonment on February 18, 2022, in a case that sparked protests from humanitarian organizations.
Several more attacks have since occurred in the region, leaving hundreds of indigenous people forcibly displaced from their places of origin.
This story was originally published on January 27, 2023 7:07 p.m.
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